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New England

Getting around

Simply put, the best way to get around New England is by car. The region is relatively small, the highways are good and public transportation is not as frequent or as widespread as in some other countries. Still, there are the alternatives of air, train and bus.

Boat

Boat service in New England is more accurately called ferry service and it tends to be more for pleasure excursions than transportation. There are a couple of exceptions though.

In Massachusetts, you can take a ferry between Boston and Provincetown on Cape Cod. For Martha’s Vineyard, ferries travel between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs and Woods Hole and Vineyard Haven. You can reach Nantucket from Hyannis, Harwich and Martha’s Vineyard.

In Connecticut, ferries travel between Bridgeport and Port Jefferson (Long Island, New York); New London and Block Island; New London and Orient Point (Long Island); and New London and Fisher’s Island (New York).

In Rhode Island, ferries run from Providence to Newport. You can reach Block Island by ferry from Newport or Galilee.

In Vermont, there’s a ferry running from Burlington to New York state, traversing Lake Champlain.

In Maine, you can travel by ferry between Bar Harbor and Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; local ferries also service island communities such as Monhegan, North Haven and Vinalhaven.

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Bus & tram

Bus

Buses go to more places than airplanes or trains, but the routes still bypass some prime destinations, especially in rural places.

Besides the national bus company, Greyhound, there are several regional carriers that ply routes within New England:

Concord Trailways (617-426-8080; 800-639-3317, www.concordtrailways.com) Covers routes from Boston to New Hampshire (Concord, Manchester, and as far up as Conway and Berlin) and Maine (Portland and Bangor). Its partner Dartmouth Coach goes to Hanover, New Hampshire.

C&J Trailways (603-430-1100, 800-258-7111; www.cjtrailways.com) Provides daily service between Boston and Newburyport (Massachusetts), as well as Portsmouth and Dover (New Hampshire). Kids travel for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Peter Pan Bus Lines (800-343-9999; www.peterpanbus.com) Serves 52 destinations in the northeast, as far north as Concord (New Hampshire) and as far south as Washington DC, as well as into western Massachusetts. Fares are comparable to Greyhound.

Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Co (508-746-0378; www.p-b.com) Provides frequent service to the South Shore and to most towns on Cape Cod, including Hyannis and Provincetown.

Vermont Transit (800-552-8737; www.vermonttransit.com) The route from Boston goes via Manchester and Concord (New Hampshire) to White River Junction, Montpelier and Burlington (Vermont), then all the way to Montreal in Canada. Another route runs up the coast to Newburyport (Massachusetts); Portsmouth (New Hampshire); and Portland, Augusta, Bangor and Bar Harbor (Maine).

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Car & motorcycle

Yes, driving is the best way to see New England. But heads up: New England drivers are aggressive, speedy and unpredictable, particularly around Boston and other cities. Traffic jams are common in urban areas.

As for parking, municipalities control parking by signs on the street stating explicitly what may or may not be done. Meters require multiple feedings with quarters. A yellow line or yellow-painted curb means that no parking is allowed there.

Fuel

Gas stations are ubiquitous and many are open 24 hours a day. Small-town stations may be open only from 7am to 8pm or 9pm. Plan on spending $2.00 to $2.80 per US gallon.

At some stations, you must pay before you pump; at others, you may pump before you pay. The more modern pumps have credit/debit card terminals built into them, so you can pay with plastic right at the pump. At ‘full service’ stations, an attendant will pump your gas for you; no tip is expected.

Hire

Rental cars are readily available. With advance reservations for a small car, the daily rate with unlimited mileage is about $35, while typical weekly rates are $250 to $300. (Rates for midsize cars are often only a tad higher.) Dropping off the car at a different location from where you picked it up usually incurs an additional fee. It always pays to shop around between rental companies. You can often snag great last-minute deals via the internet – check out www.kayak.com to compare rates across companies.

Having a major credit card greatly simplifies the rental process. Without one, some agencies simply will not rent vehicles, while others require prepayment, a deposit of $200 per week, pay stubs, proof of round-trip airfare and more.

The following companies operate in New England:

Alamo (800-462-5266; www.goalamo.com)

Avis (800-321-3712; www.avis.com)

Budget (800-527-0700; www.budget.com)

Dollar (800-800-5252; www.dollarcar.com)

Enterprise (800-261-7331; www.enterprise.com)

Hertz (800-654-3131; www.hertz.com)

National (800-227-7368; www.nationalcar.com)

Thrifty (800-283-0898; www.thrifty.com)

There are a handful of smaller agencies that may offer better deals, such as Rent-A-Wreck (800-944-7501; www.rentawreck.com), which rents cars that may have more wear and tear than your typical rental vehicle, but are actually far from wrecks.

Insurance

Should you have an accident, liability insurance covers the people and property that you have hit. For damage to the actual rental vehicle, a collision damage waiver (CDW) is available for about $15 a day. If you have collision coverage on your vehicle at home, it might cover damages to car rentals; inquire before departing. Additionally, some credit cards offer reimbursement coverage for collision damages if you rent the car with that credit card; again, check before departing. Most credit card coverage isn’t valid for rentals of more than 15 days or for exotic models, jeeps, vans and 4WD vehicles.

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Train

Shore Line East (203-255-7433; www.shoreeastline.com) trains connect New Haven and New London. Metro-North (212-532-4900, 800-638-7646; www.mta.info) trains run between New York City and New Haven.

Amtrak has a few different routes to and through New England. The Vermonter runs through New Haven and Hartford, (Connecticut), Springfield and Amherst (Massachusetts), and then on to St Albans in Vermont.

The Montrealer runs to northern Vermont along the Connecticut River Valley, with stops in New Haven (Connecticut), Amherst (Massachusetts) and Essex Junction (for Burlington), White River Junction and Brattleboro (Vermont).

In Boston, MBTA Commuter Rail trains (800-392-6100; www.mbta.com) travel west to Concord and Lowell, north to Salem, Rockport, Gloucester and Newburyport, and south to Plymouth and Providence.

The Maine Eastern Railroad (866-637-2457; www.maineeasternrailroad.com) now offers a seasonal service between Brunswick and Rockland, Maine.

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Air

Regional and commuter airlines connect New England’s cities and resorts with Boston and New York City. The following airports receive scheduled flights:

Bangor International Airport (866-359-2264; www.flybangor.com) Serves inland and northern Maine.

Barnstable Municipal Airport (508-775-2020; www.town.barnstable.ma.us/departments/airport) Serves Cape Cod.

Bradley International Airport (860-292-2000; www.bradleyairport.com) Serves Connecticut, the Berkshires and Central Massachusetts.

Burlington Airport (802-863-2874; www.burlingtonairport.com) Vermont’s major airport.

Groton/New London Airport (860-445-8549; www.grotonnewlondonairport.com) Serves the southeastern Connecticut coast.

Hancock County Airport (207-667-7329; www.bhbairport.com) Serves Mt Desert Island and Down East.

Martha’s Vineyard Airport (508-693-7022; www.mvyairport.com) Serves the Vineyard.

Nantucket Airport (508-325-5300; www.nantucketairport.com) Serves Nantucket Island.

Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport (802-786-8881; www.flyrutlandvt.com)

Worcester Municipal Airport (508-799-1350; www.flyworcester.com) Serves central Massachusetts.

Regional airlines

Cape Air (800-352-0714; www.flycapeair.com) Flights to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Colgan Air (800-428-4322; www.colganair.com) Connects Bar Harbor and Boston year-round.

Nantucket Air (800-635-8787; www.nantucketairlines.com) Flights from Cape Cod to Nantucket.

New England Airlines (800-243-2460; www.block-island.com/nea) Flights to Block Island from Westerly.

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Bicycle

Bicycling is a popular New England sport and means of transport on both city streets and country roads. Several of the larger cities have systems of bike paths that make bike travel much easier and more pleasant. Disused railroad rights-of-way have also been turned into bike trails. The Cape Cod Rail Trail between Dennis and Wellfleet is a prominent example.

Bicycle rentals are available in most New England cities, towns and resorts at reasonable prices (often $15 to $25 per day).

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